About the Author

Kristen Strong, author of Back Roads to Belonging and Girl Meets Change, writes as a friend offering meaningful encouragement for each season of life so you can see it with hope instead of worry. She and her US Air Force veteran husband, David, have three children and live in Colorado...

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  1. Kristen,
    “Jesus came down to help not to exhaust.” How true. I think God’s subtlety is lost on me. In order to get me to be still and rely solely on Him, He has to speak in ALL CAPS!!! Not that God causes illnesses, original sin took care of that, but He does allow. Right before Thanksgiving I wound up in the ER and am now shy one gallbladder. Out of necessity I had to order Thanksgiving dinner from a nearby market which actually turned out to be a blessing for me. Feeling better, I jumped back into life and promptly threw my back out….sidelined again. I wanted back in the game of life and jumped in with my usual intensity. Feeling extremely exhausted I went back to the doctor. Hemoglobin levels dangerously low….anemia with a capital “A”. “Bed rest, Bev,” the doctor said, “No moving boxes to decorate, no going out unless absolutely necessary….REST.” So here I sit, facing Christmas, with no energy to decorate, cook, shop, wrap, nothing. I have my Bible, the sofa, my beagle, and of course God. Maybe God REALLY wants me to be able to prepare my heart for His coming. I think He really wants me to get the message to slow down and not miss the process of preparing my heart for His coming. He’s removed all the possible distractions that take our attention away from His Son. Maybe this may be the biggest blessing He has in store for me?? I’ll keep you posted….praying for you Kristen. And yes our energy with our children goes from matters of motion to matters of the heart as they get older….
    Blessings,
    Bev xo

    • Bev, I’m praying for this season of rest for you. I pray for healing and for a slow downed intentional time with the Lord. I pray that you encounter Him in a way that you never have before. Christmas will still come but you’ll get to respond and receive the deeper meaning of it without the “superficiality” of it. Not that lights and presents and decorations are a bad thing, they are not. But sometimes in our rushing around to meet expectations in this holiday season, we miss the “heartbeat” of Christmas. Praying for all of us to choose to slow down and hear the heartbeat of Christmas – Jesus – and the joy, mercy and peace that fills our hearts regardless of the outside appearances and that our actions our filled with this motivation and not our own or others expectations.

      Love, Rebecca

      • Rebecca,
        What a simply beautiful prayer. I agree with you that God has something special in store. Oh how easy it is to get caught up in the superficiality and miss the heartbeat. It’s been a long year and I do need refilled, replenished, and some time to be still in the presence of my Savior. He knows, much better than I do, what I need and so I am really just going with this. This forced down time has given me more time to linger and bask in His Word – already a delight there!! Joining with you in losing the expectations and slowing down to truly and intentionally take in the true meaning of Christmas.
        With love, thanks, and Advent blessings,
        Bev xx

    • Bev,

      Sorry you have yet another health issue. Praying soon you will feel like yourself again. May the new year begin with you healthy. In this advent season may you hear the Christmas story like never before. I pray it sinks in & you enjoy your down time with God. My pastor says sometimes God has to take us to the woodshed or slow us down to get our attention. Perhaps He is trying to get our attention focused back on Him. I pray we can ALL slow down & feel the magic that is Christmas. A savior born of a virgin in a smelly stable. How wonderful that He would leave the splendor of Heaven for us. Listen to Matthew West’s Leaving Heaven or Cloverton’s A Hallelujah Christmas. Both songs perfectly & vividly explore the depth that is Christmas. Praying you feel stronger & better in 2019!

      (((((Hugs)))))

      • Thanks my sweet prayer warrior…
        Yes, I do believe I’ve been taken to the woodshed. Trying to take in what God would have me learn and hear. Thank you for prayers for a healthy 2019. It would be so nice to have a relatively healthy year!! It’s been a long journey. Will definitely listen to those songs!! Thanks for your love and prayers!!
        Advent blessings,
        Bev xoxo

      • I think I’ll listen to your suggestions here too, Beth. Thank you for so faithfully adding your words of encouragement and prayer as well. You bless beyond measure. xo

    • My goodness, Bev, you’ve been through so much. I’m so sorry. I’m praying now you’re able to slow down on the inside as much as the outside, that He provides others to help care for you and fill in the gaps, and that God blesses you with abundance in this difficult season. Sending you so much love!

  2. Yes to ALL this, Kristen! As my kids have come into the teen years, it’s dawned on me that the caring relationship has nothing to do with physical care anymore. It’s all about relationship. And I’m not very good at that in any area of life, so my knees know the floor as well.
    As for Advent season, I think the one aspect we all forget in our planning is that during that time, in a addition to gifts, carols, and decorations, there will also be no fewer than 75 meals prepared, the bathrooms will still need to be cleaned, and the vacuum will have to be run over the floors at some point. Maybe.
    I’ve never heard Christmas compared to a final exam before, but I know exactly what you mean. The good news is that God is certainly not proctoring this particular exam, and we’re free to walk out and find a way to celebrate that truly honors Him.

  3. At what age did you find your children willing, capable, able to have ‘heart to heart’ conversations? My oldest is 6 and i look forward to the day we have these kinds of chats, but right now when i try to ‘pull’ stuff out of him or force a convo, i find myself feeling like i can’t do that right either?! Thanks for your always amazing words. I’m so glad i found you on insta!

    • Well, Ashley, it was a good deal older than six, I believe! Closer to 16–especially where my sons are concerned. My daughter was earlier, but she’s more verbal like her mama. 🙂 Really, though, all we can do is make ourselves available to our kiddos in an easy going way so that when they do want to have a heart-to-heart, they know they have a safe place to do so. And it sounds to me like you’re doing a good job at that. You’re not failing in the least.

      Sending love, Ashley, and much gratitude for your kind words. xo

  4. Oh, Kristen, yes! I don’t think parenting ever gets easier, it gets different-er :). That adage, “When they’re young they step on your feet, when they’re older, the step on your heart” is so true. Big kids have big need, but very different from before.

    All that to say, these thoughts about Christmas are so good. Yes! Let Christmas come to us instead of all the ways we strive in it! Advent is a time of waiting, and I know I’m too quick to forget that.

    Love to you and yours as I spend a little time thinking over your words.

    xo

    • Robin darling! Seeing your name here always makes my heart dance. Heh. (But so true!)

      It doesn’t get easier, it gets different-er. Yes and amen. I’m so grateful for your beautiful, truthful example of mama-ing, Robin. We all have good things to learn from your great example. Sending love!

  5. Oh golly Kristen I hear you. On all fronts! I now have two in college and it STILL doesn’t seem easier! I’m not physically exhausted like when they were small but now worry somehow feels weightier. I love what you’re saying, to not run to Christmas but let it come to us.
    Thank you.
    Niki
    x

  6. Kirsten
    This was so touching, thank-you for sharing your honesty. When I think about the true beauty, and splendor of Christmas, it brings me comfort, and memories of simpler times when you didn’t feel you had to try so hard. I hope that you all can be touched this Christmas in that way………………..
    I hope you all have a blessed day,
    Penny

  7. Amen, Kristen. I’m more selective with which decorations I display the last few years, even. I don’t bring it all out and feel a burden to set it all up…even all the nativity ones. The peace isn’t in the million+ decorations & rituals, the peace is in the presence as we welcome Him into the season with thanksgiving. May we all allow Christmas to “find us” this year. Thank you for this lovely sentiment. Merry Christmas!

  8. Thank YOU! This is exactly what I needed to hear today. My teens also prefer late night heart to hearts – when I’m at my mom worst. I love your line “I want to stop and let Christmas find me”. I need to remember that today and everyday through this busy harried season.

  9. Kristen,

    Sometimes the Christmas season feel like a final exam. We rush around getting gifts, putting up decorations, partying. All that is fine. I believe that we have lost the true meaning of Christmas & advent is not spoken of much anymore. You don’t hear Merry Christmas in this secular world. They say Happy Holidays because they don’t want anything to do with Christ. I’m helping my hubby care for his aging parents. Last Thanksgiving they were both in the hospital. MIL got out Dec. 15th. It was rough. Turns out FIL has stage III bladder cancer & MIL is doing fair taking care of him. They have slowed down some. I want to slow myself down this advent season to really get the whole reason for Christmas. It is so gracious of our Lord to leave the splendor of Heaven & come down to this dark & sin-filled world. He was born in a smelly stable to boot. I recommend two songs: Matthew West’s “Leaving Heaven” & Cloverton’s A Hallelujah Christmas. Both exemplify the true meaning of Christmas. I pray we can all slow down & really feel Christmas this year!

    Blessings 🙂

  10. Kristen,

    This was a beautiful truth. I love your line of “I want to stop and let Christmas find me.”

    Being a stay-at-home mom to two young boys and a third due in about a month, I so resonate with the need to just be slowed down this season. Thank you for the beautiful words to pray and to focus on simply abiding in Jesus, rather than trying to work so hard to do everything the way I “should” in my relationship with Jesus. He’s the one who holds me and keeps me attached to him. I need to seek him, but it’s not my efforts that keep me attached to him. So true about the Christmas season too.

    Thanks

  11. Thank you! You’re speaking my language: I’m in high school right now! I already have too much homework, and I can tell I’m going to try and burn myself out this year. Our family’s Dutch, so we also celebrate Sinter Klaas, or Saint Nicholas Day. That was yesterday, and we’re celebrating tomorrow, and I always try to do some sort of cool family activity. Please pray that I will know when to stop.

    • I’m praying for that very thing, Emily. May you hear the Lord speak to your heart very clearly about what He wants you to do and what He doesn’t want you to add to your schedule. Sending love to you, sweet girl.

  12. Thank you, Kristen, for these needed, beautiful words! I love this: “I want to stop and let Christmas find me.” Isn’t that the absolute TRUTH! God has always pursued us. He has always come to us. He finds us. Sometimes I have this nagging feeling that I need to make Christmas more ‘special,’ which usually ends up in me doing waaaaaay too much, and I end up stressing myself out completely. I feel like I have to chase after God and do more traditions in order to make Christmas more meaningful. But in reality, it’s all about our Savior. It’s all about sitting in His presence and letting Him find us and reveal Himself to our hearts.

    Thank you, Sister! So good.
    All of God’s best to you,

    Becky

    • I’ve been there girl, more than once. But this–> “It’s all about sitting in His presence and letting Him find us and reveal Himself to our hearts.” Golden.

      Thank you, Becky!

  13. Kristen, I’m so glad God loves us in our weary and in our cheery. His mercies are new every morning, noon, and night because He is always with us. Love come down. Yes. That’s what I need to remember this Christmas too. Thank you for this beautiful post. xx